Each of the islands have interesting dive spots and it is difficult to choose an island to operate from. Choosing which island to make your base mainly depends on the type of diver you are (wreck, cave, deep) and your experience level. Also your other, non-diving activities could give you some direction. Islands like Flores and Corvo are pretty isolated and only have a few towns. They are great for hiking and bird watching and can also be combined (day-trip, the islands are 13km apart). Terceira and São Miguel are the largest islands and have the most dive centers and other facilities. With Terceira being part of the Central Group of Islands, this could be a good option to base yourself and be relatively close to a large number of interesting dive sites.
Having said that, San Miguel has great Marine Reserves and if you are an experienced diver you can also find large marine life here like Devil Rays and sometimes even Mola Mola.
- Close to Terceira, the Ilhéu das Cabras and the Cemitério das Âncoras (Cemetery of Anchors) are both essential sites for any self-respecting diver.
- In the central group of islands, lying between Faial and Pico, the Baixa do Canal is a worldwide diving attraction.
- Sitting far out to the Atlantic, Pico Island offers the kind sea life of the open ocean, such as dolphins, manta rays or hammer-head sharks. Most of Pico’s rocks and reefs are in the recreational range, but for technical divers there is the Princess Alice Bank. This is the best place to see the really big fish (minimum depth for the bank is 38m). It can also be reached from Faial.
- In between São Miguel and Santa Maria are the Ilhéus das Formigas (Formigas Islets), another highlight of the Azores. It can be combined with Dollabarat Reef, another great site. Both are for experienced divers.
- Off São Miguel, Galera, the islet of Vila Franca, the Mosteiros and the waters off Feteiras have all established their own reputations for spectacular underwater habitats. The Marine reserve Baixa do Ambrósio (Ambrósio Reef) is one of the most visited and sought after dive sites of the Azores which is also located here.
Generally, the south coasts of the islands have better conditions for diving. However, when the sea is favorable, the north coast can also be a pleasant experience.
Based on the highlights, the more experienced divers will find Santa Maria and São Miguel great islands for diving. Also check out the official website from the Azores here where you can find great information and divespots.